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ReFocus: The Films of Paul Schrader$
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Michelle E. Moore and Brian Brems

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781474462037

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474462037.001.0001

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Schrader and Style

Schrader and Style

Chapter:
(p.17) Chapter 1 Schrader and Style
Source:
ReFocus: The Films of Paul Schrader
Author(s):

Erik M. Bachman

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474462037.003.0002

This essay relates both Schrader’s criticism and films to the analytic philosophical account of style developed by Nelson Goodman in order to show how Schrader’s style invokes form, content, ideology, and expression all at once. More importantly, however, the function of style in his work means that his films must be considered in terms of his filmography. In particular, any assessment of that body of work must grapple with the contradictory relationships between and among the films of which it is comprised. Ultimately, Schrader is the preeminent American filmmaker of a peculiar dialectical style, one that is simultaneously culturally specific, personally autographic, and universally humanist, though it bursts the frame of any of his films: no one Schrader film exemplifies his dialectical style, because this style can only be seen by relating each film to his others. Accordingly, a Paul Schrader film is style-less, yet Paul Schrader films are not. This essay ends with some speculative remarks as to what this implies about the status of the work of art in the case of Schrader’s cinematic and critical output.

Keywords:   Paul Schrader, Style (in film), Work of art, Nelson Goodman, film

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